I went on a mission trip to Kingston, Ontario, Canada. I was building fences and doing yard work at a public housing complex. There were a couple families that talked to us and helped us out that day so I was excited to see one of those families at the evening service that night. It was a mom, with her daughters, their friend, and her son. She was there all by herself with all of the kids. I recognized them and decided to sit in the back with the little girls, since Christie, the mom, was sitting with her younger son. I don’t remember a single thing that was said during the service but I do remember every single moment I had with those girls. I was going through a phase where I had a lot of jewelry: a ring my friend had given me from Ocean City, NJ, a bracelet my cousins had just brought back from Turkey, and a bracelet I had gotten when an African tribe had come to my school. I gave each one of them a piece of my jewelry, realizing that the materialistic things I had weren’t as important as the bond I was making with these girls. We went back to the same housing complex the next day but instead of doing the work I was supposed to, I spent the whole day playing soccer with all of the kids in the complex, being chased by Ethan and his inflatable whale, and hanging out with the little girls that had received pieces of my heart the night before.
Later that day, Christie came home from some errands she had run. To my surprise, she had brought me a gift. It was a rhinestone encrusted cross necklace with angel wings. I will never forget what she said to me: “Emily, I just wanted to get you a little gift to thank you for being so nice to my girls. We don’t have a lot of money, so I know it’s not much but I just wanted to get you something to remember us by. I know you travel a lot so I wanted it to have angel wings so you would know you would always have a guardian angel watching over you wherever you go.” I was stunned; I never knew something so little as giving away, to me, my rinky-dink jewelry and playing with kids would make such an impact on not only their lives, but my life as well. To an outsider looking in, it might have just seemed like an exchange of jewelry but to me it was a way to leave an imprint on each other’s hearts.
I had gone away from that experience with new life-long friends simply because I gave away some jewelry and sat with those girls for an hour. In that one action, I showed and gained more love than I would have ever dreamed. That action led to another, one that showed me what true kindness and giving meant. I believe in a lot of things but this I truly believe, “Actions speak louder than words.”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.